A convicted rapist released from prison two weeks ago by a Prince George's Country judge after serving slightly more than one year of a 15-year sentence has been charged with murdering Margaret Boyer, a popular Nartheast Washington woman found stabbed to death in her bathtub last Friday.
District police are hunting for McCajah Harris, 22 who was found guilty by Circuit Court Judge Howard S. Chasanow of six offenses in a January 1978 knife-wielding sexual attack on two Howard University students.
Harris had been in prison until July 20, when he was freed by Chasanow on the recommendation of a Maryland state psychiatrist who said Harris, needed treatment for psychiatric and drug abuse problems. Chasanow placed Harris on five years' probation with the requirement that he be treated at Rubicon a Richmond halfway house for drug abusers.
But Harris fled from the halfway house late last week, Rubicon officials told Chasanow.
The body of Boyer, a 68-year-old boarding house proprietor known affectionately in her neighbourhood as "Miss Peggy," was discovered after police went to her house in response to a report of a bizarre robbery in a basement apartment.
Chasanow, reached in Reno, Nev., where he is attanding the National Judicial College said he released Harris because "I felt that he was going to get out sometime in the next couple of years. I felt better if he got out after a period of treatment instead of just incarceration without treatment.
"I would not have released him on the street," the judge said. "I only would release him to an inpatient residential facility where he would get intensive psychiatric and drug treatment. The only reason I did this was because he had no history of criminal or violent acts period to the sex offenses.
"I do things with caution," Chasanow said. "In this case, the state's own expert said he was able to rehabilitated, that he was a good risk."
Dr. Paul A. Menitoff, a state psychiatrist at Clifton Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, Md., wrote Chasanow in early May that Harris "has definite mental illness" but not to the degree that he is legally insane.
"He is a multiple drug abuser as well as a latent schizophrenic and was pushed at the time of the [sex offenses] into a toxic psychosis by his drug use of PCP and amphetamines," Menitoff wrote. "Although Mr. Harris' current offenses was certainly a very violent and anti-social act, I am not aware of his having committed any other prior criminal offenses and he did not come across in my eximimation as a basically anti-social person.
"Therefore, from my point of view as regards his disposition, I would think the emphasis should be on psychatric treatment rather than simply incarceration," Menitoff's report concluded.
Mentioff declined to talk with a reporter about the cause yesterday.
Assistant State's Attorney Arthur M. Kravetz, who prosecuted the sex offense case against Harris, opposed Harris' release to Rubicon at the July 20 hearing on grounds that "nothing has occured since the time of sentencing [in May] to warrant a reduction in the sentence."
According to Kravetz, Harris entered the Howard students' apartment in Adelphi after telling one of them that he knew her boyfriend, who was in California at the time, and wanted his address.
Harris waited as the woman went to her bedroom to get the address and then went to the kitchen to get a steak knife. Kravetz said Harris returned to the living room and had one of the woman tie up the other one and then forced each of the women into their respective bedrooms. He then tied up the other woman.
After turning on both the radio and television, Harris ransacked the apartment for money and valuables and then returned to the bedrooms where he shoved pillowcases over his victims' heads.
Harris forced both women to perform oral sex and then he repeatedly raped one of the women, according to the prosecutor.
After the assults were over, Harris forced the women to drive him to the District to one of the women's banks where he ordered her to withdraw money from an automatic money dispenser. But when the woman was unsuccessful in getting the money, Harris told them to return to Maryland.
On the drive back, one of the women asked the assailant what his name was and he replied McCajah, according to the prosecutor.
City police were called to Boyer's home at 1215 Taylot St. NE when Deirdre Riddiex, a 21-year-old Southwest Washington woman, reported she had been robbed by an unknown man.
Biddiex said she had gone to the basement apartment of "Miss Peggy's to visit a friend. The man left her in the apartment and said he was her friend's cousin. After waiting for an hour for her friend to come, Biddiex said she got ready to leave, but the man wouldn't let her go and hit her when she pulled out a fingernail file.
Biddiex said the man robbed her of $5 and then fled, and she went upstairs to the first-floor apartment and called police. Police found Boyer's body lying face down in a bathtub full of water in another part of the apartment.
Neighbours uniformly described Miss Peggy as "a fantastic lady" who was friendly with everyone in the quiet Brookland neighborhood.
Police declined yesterday to say what evidence they have allegedly linking Harris to the Boyer Killing.